BY BERT BURNETT
Something is fundamentally wrong in ‘conservation’ circles.
We have seen huge increases in raptor populations over the last half a century, some species the highest ever recorded. Kites, buzzards, goshawks and sparrowhawks are all on the rise. We have raptor lobbyists claiming eagles are in trouble through persecution when in fact their numbers have apparently risen by approximately 35-40 pair over the last decade. The latest surveys confirm this but there appears to be some reluctance to publish the figures as they do not fit with raptor propagandists’ dishonest messages. All we hear about are the alleged plights of raptors and the need for their habitats to be protected – the drum beat is as tiring as it is rhythmless.
This is in stark contrast to the plight of our waders (and many other birds) who are suffering declines, according to the latest BTO maps. There are apparently declines of up to 60% in some species and an equal constriction in areas where they used to nest. Take Loch Lomond National Park where in places they are virtually extinct. Even more alarming, we’re being told that since the maps were produced in 2011 there has been a further decline of 15% in some wider areas.
Only a few years ago an SNH report carried out on the hills of Drumochter highlighted that Ptarmigan had suffered a catastrophic decline, through predation, of 90% along with other bird species suffering similar high percentage declines.
When was the last time, if ever, you’ve heard of someone being arrested for disturbing a wader’s nest?
Raptor numbers rise by a 1000% over the last 50 years and waders decline to the point of local extinction during the same period and not a word is being said.
There is no hue and cry, no beating of chests or petitions being raised. No propaganda site for waders foist upon our search results by Google News. There is no call for forests, which were once homes for waders before being planted, to be cut down to make new habitat. The LLNP ( who have also lost their capercaillie population) are not calling for brood management or added protection of waders …
Because the truth is that the bird lobby across the land don’t see them as “sexy” or useful – weak birds, weak message – and those that do will be quietly ignored in favour of raptors and other protected predators which are driving the decline of ground nesting birds like waders and have been doing so for many years.